Archive for December, 2004

Goodbye, Seniors: Senior athletes reflect on their time at Wash. U.

Friday, December 10th, 2004 | Justin Davidson
Margaret Bauer

The players:

Colin Robinson, of Brookfield, CT, was the starting goalie for the men’s soccer team. Robinson’s 0.58 career goals-against average ranks first on the WU all-time list; he also tallied 15.5 career shutouts and a career record of 18-9-6. Robinson, who has a 3.8 grade-point average as a Biology major, garnered first-team Academic All-District VII honors for the second straight season. He was also named to the first-team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America Team for the College Division.

Colleen Winter, a St. Louis native and biology major, was the captain and outside hitter on the second-ranked women’s volleyball team. She ranks first on WU’s list in career digs (1,991), second in career attack attempts (3,880) and games played (528), fifth in kills (1,538) and ninth in total blocks (218). A three-time University Athletic Association (UAA) All-Academic honoree, Winter has also earned all-UAA honors in each of her four years on the Hilltop Campus. She was named first-team All-America both this and last season and second-team All-America in 2002.

Maggie Grabow, of Wauwatosa, WI, was the captain of the third-ranked women’s cross country team. She is an environmental studies major and a double minor in French and legal studies. Maggie holds two University records, including a time of 35:47 in the 10K and a time of 17:11 in the 5K. She placed ninth in the 10K and 15th in the 5K races in the 2003 NCAA Nationals. She also won the UAA Cross Country Championships in 2003 and 2004, garnering All-Conference Honors for herself. She is a six-time UAA Athlete of the Week.

Charlotte Felber, of Orland Park, IL, was the starting goaltender for the twelfth-ranked women’s soccer team. She ranks first in Washington University history in career wins (36), second in career goals against average (0.64), fourth in career saves (175) and fourth in career shutouts (21.5). Felber, who has a 3.65 GPA as a philosophy major, garnered first-team Academic All-District VII honors earlier this month. She is a three-time member of the UAA All-Academic Team and was recently named to the ESPN Women’s Soccer Academic All-American Team.

John Woock, of Louisville, KY, a defensive back, was the captain of the football team. He has a 4.0 GPA in biomedical engineering and was recently named to the College Football’s 2004 National Scholar Athlete Class, one of 15 individuals from all NCAA divisions in the nation. He won an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship with the award. Woock earned second-team CoSIDA Academic All-America honors in 2003 and is the 2002 UAA Defensive Player of the Year and the recipient of the Washington University Most Courageous Award. A Dean’s List member every semester of his career, he received the Biomedical Engineering Department Junior Class Award in 2003.

The questions:

What has your Wash U experience been like and what has it taught you?

Robinson: “It’s definitely been a period of growth, both academically and athletically. I’ve really gained a sense of maturity which has taught me how to focus much better with classes and especially soccer. I love Wash U. It’s been such a great, positive experience for me.”

Winter: “I’ve met so many people here from all over, like my freshman roommate from Saudi Arabia. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. I’m going to really savor next semester. As for volleyball, I’m so lucky to be part of such a talented group of great people. Kudos to the coach for his recruiting skills.”

Grabow: “It’s taught me how to be an independent person and how to expand upon the values that my parents taught me like dedication, perseverance, loyalty and trust through developing relationships. I had to use those values to build bonds of trust, especially with teammates, who then became my best friends. I’m not the same person I was freshman year-I was more na‹ve and sheltered, but coming to college opened my eyes to a different world.”

Felber: “I’ve come to love Wash U as a very special place that has taught me a lot. I’ve met some great friends, and even though the classes have been challenging, it’s been a very rewarding experience.”

Woock: “The past four years have taught me how to balance my responsibilities and how to have fun. Enjoying being around such great people, especially, has given me a greater appreciation for diversity across the country. Coming from Louisville I wasn’t very exposed to all that’s out there, but Wash U has opened me up to people of different backgrounds and places.”

What was it like balancing an academic life with an athletic sports career?

Woock: “It really comes down to managing your time and knowing how to study at the last minute, which is clutch. Football was something I really wanted to do, so giving that up was out of the question. So, in order to do both successfully, I had to make both equally as important to have a purpose and persevere despite everything I had on my plate. I managed.”

Winter: “Firstly, there’s no such thing as a social life on Friday and Saturday, so there’s not much time for yourself and with friends. When you have such a schedule you must become disciplined and use the time when you have it. Every moment is basically spent doing work because you basically have to. It’s all so worth it, though. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Robinson: “Freshman year I didn’t play because of a knee injury, so I was in rehab, which I think gave me a better chance to readjust while also preparing for competition.”

Grabow: “I’ve learned how to manage my time, that’s for sure. Both work and athletics are really important priorities for me, and in order to maintain that priority at practice and at school, you have to be efficient. Nevertheless, it’s always important to have the time to have fun. Professors have been really sympathetic and understanding with my demands and schedule, so I’m grateful for that.”

Felber: “As an architecture major my first two years, it was hard being a perfectionist and having to have so much studio time, so sometimes I overexerted myself. I then switched to philosophy, and still spent lots of time doing work. Also, being around other driven people has a trickle-down-effect. On the bus, everyone would have their books out doing work. It was tough, but rewarding.”

Looking back on the past four years, would you do anything differently if you could?

Woock: “It would have been nice to win a few more games, especially the close ones, but the memories wouldn’t be traded for anything. It was an awesome, fun four years, so I can’t say I’d want to change a thing. No regrets.”

Robinson: “Well, being a biology major I felt I was forced to take specific courses. I would have liked to get some more variety than just planning for my future.

Grabow: “One of my weaknesses is perfectionism, and because of that I always seem to put a lot of pressure on myself. I would have liked to handle some situations without always putting so much pressure on myself and hindering myself in doing so. Coach Stiles taught me to run to have fun, and after learning from him, it now is.”

Felber: “No, because then everything would not have turned out the way it has. Soccer is more than just soccer, and I would never want to give something as special as that up. Maybe I would’ve liked to come in having more of a propensity to explore different areas.”

What is your greatest Wash U sports memory?

Robinson: “I don’t think I have one in particular, but it was the things like road trips that I’ll always remember. For instance, coming back from U Chicago [University of Chicago] last year after a big win just hanging out and celebrating, having freestyling sessions, telling jokes on the microphone-it was all just so great. It was also really cool traveling with the girls, which gave a nice variety with their team there. One of the greatest things is that you don’t only get to know all the guys on your team but also other athletes from other teams… since we all pretty much live at the AC during the season.”

Winter: “The natural thing to say is to win the national championship last year, but I’m not sure, because there are so many great random moments. It’s the little memories that I’ll remember the most, like on the bus and in the locker room with the girls. They’re an exceptionally amazing group of girls and there’s no fighting between us. After every game we’d go to Wendy’s and get Frostys-it’s the little things like that.”

Felber: “Probably beating U Chicago last year is definitely at the top of the list. It was one of the things that helped to set up our success this year, I believe. There were a lot of family and friends at the game, so that was really great. It’s tough to choose just one; there’s so many.”

Grabow: “On Saturday, November 20, we took third place at Nationals and it was quite the honor to lead these ladies to that after working so hard. That day was the event we all had worked for, and it was so exceptional, not just because of our success, but also…the entire team came up to Wisconsin to cheer us on. I saw my grandfather on the sidelines with tears in his eyes-the joy that I saw in his eyes and the pride I saw was simply unforgettable. I never saw Coach Stiles that ecstatic. It was so rewarding to see him so happy.”Woock: “Probably the end of the Carnegie Mellon game this season because it was an intense last drive and stopping them cold meant something special for the seniors, which was that we became the only class to win every conference game ever played. Also, I just got in from New York for the Awards dinner and it was an unreal experience. People like Ronnie Lott, Joe Paterno and Archie Manning were there-it was ridiculous. I felt very fortunate to be there.”

With the close of your last season behind you, what were some of your emotions and thoughts knowing that it’s all coming to an end soon?

Grabow: “My initial feeling was sadness because of the remarkable experience and knowing that I’m leaving it. I’m so proud to be a member of the cross country team and happy for them because I know they will do well. Still, I’m excited to see what the future holds- a little apprehensive, but confident that the relationships I’ve built are strong and will help me along the way.”

Felber: “Denial. I didn’t think about it as over right away. Some people were pretty emotional, but it wasn’t until we had a team dinner last week where it really set in. It was really more so what we built as a team more than anything that I’ll miss. The future of the team is ahead of them and they should all be very successful.”

Robinson: “It’s kind of weird-working for so much then all of a sudden it stops. It’s hard to know that it’s coming to an end. I mean, you can’t just stop playing since we’ve all been playing since we were four of five years old. It’s a real transitional period. I’d like to continue playing [soccer] in the future in maybe indoor or adult leagues as I become an overweight middle-aged man.”

Winter: “It’s a real bittersweet feeling because I love volleyball and sports in general, so it’s hard not to imagine being on the team. I plan on starting up with sand volleyball and coaching a club team here in St. Louis just so I can hold some ties to the sport. But it just won’t be the same since it’s not with the team. I’m excited to have some free time and go out.

Woock: “My biggest feeling was to just take it all in and just stand around on the field before the game to take a mental picture of it. I didn’t want to worry about it going by too fast. It should be interesting to see how I’ll be next season when I’m not playing. I was talking with Ronnie Lott at the awards dinner and he told me to take these things from the field and apply them to life. Football was never work, and if I could play forever, that would be awesome.”

Is there any advice you want to leave to your teammates after gaining infinite wisdom from your experiences?

Felber: “Enjoy it, it goes by a lot quicker than you think. Still, don’t lose other aspects of life and be set only on academics. Enjoy the other aspects and remember to have fun. That’s really important.”

Winter: “Don’t be a fool, stay in school. No, just kidding. Wash U is so amazing and once in while you should look around…and just appreciate it. Try to enjoy it because it goes by really fast. I just hope that next semester goes by really, really slowly because I’m going to have some fun!”

Grabow: “I guess just to believe in yourself and don’t put pressure on yourself. Be confident and if you work towards your goals, you’ll achieve success. It’s the little things you need in order to have success…like with teammates, friends, professors, and family. I think it’s really important to make sure to make the time to say you love the people who are important to you in your life and recognize the people who have helped you along the way.”

Robinson: “Enjoy the guys on the team and the experience because you’re never going to go to school and play sports again like we’ve done. The senior batch, especially, are such amazing people; they’re all very impressive. It was great having the opportunity to get to know all of them and I’ll miss them very much.”

Woock: “Well, something that I picked up from the older guys when I was a freshman was that there’s nothing more important than having fun. You really can’t take things too seriously, or else you’re in for trouble. Enjoy life, it’s that simple.”

What are your plans after graduation and what do you see the future holding in store for you?

Robinson: “I’m applying to medical school, so hopefully I’ll be there next year, maybe back East. Hopefully I’ll get into public health of maybe international or urban health.”

Grabow: “Right now I’m applying to law schools, environmental law especially, and then maybe get my masters in environmental science. I also want to run in marathons because it’s very fulfilling to feel that connection with long-distance running. A family is also in order.”

Winter: “I’m applying to physical therapy school at Wash U, so right now I’ve got to finish up all my applications. I’d like to get right into it-physical therapy is just what I’m looking for as a biology major and someone who loves to interact with people. As long as I can interact with people.”

Felber: “I’m applying to law school, but I might possibly give myself a break to get a feel for what exactly I want to do. I’m not quite sure-I’m still interested in architecture, so maybe construction or environmental and land use law. So, we’ll see how that turns out.”

Woock: “I’m looking to go to Biomedical Engineering graduate school in neuroprosthetics research, maybe out on the West coast for a change of scenery. But for right now, I have to wrap up my applications and get all that together.”

Is there anyone you would like to thank?

Winter: “I’d just like to reiterate how lucky I feel to be a part of such an amazing group of people and how lucky I feel to be able to make the playoffs and be so successful as we have. Not many teams can be as privileged as we are to do so well, even though most teams will work so hard. I can’t feel any luckier.”

Grabow: “Definitely my parents for always being so supportive. They rarely miss a competition, regardless of where I’m competing, and I can’t thank them enough for their support. Definitely my grandfather, sister, and teammates, and to Coach Stiles. It was truly an honor to be a member of the women’s cross country team.”

Felber: “The development of the team is something I haven’t felt from coaches before and the same goes with my teammates. We’re all very close, almost like family. It’s very genuine, that’s what I’m going to miss the most. But I’m thankful just for the opportunity to be part of such a team and get to know everyone I have met.”

Robinson: “I want to thank all of my teammates, my coaches, my friends and, above all, my family for all of their support. I had a fantastic experience as an athlete and student here at Wash U, but it wouldn’t have been as great were it not for them.”

Woock: “I’d like to thank my coaches. Some of the greatest lessons of life are taught from the sidelines, and I can’t appreciate that any more. My teammates, the seniors especially, are so special to me. They’re a special bunch of people and I can’t be more grateful for them.”

Model U.N. breaks the Wash. U. bubble

Friday, December 10th, 2004 | Shweta Murthi

A new group formed in Student Union about a month ago to bring crisis handling and globalization into the student arena-but it isn’t your high school’s Model United Nations.

“U.N. committees at the college level are more dynamic and crisis-oriented,” said junior Roman Solowski, president of Model United Nations (U.N.) at Washington University. “The caliber of skill and difference of knowledge between participants makes it stand out from smaller high school contests.”

He explained that Model U.N. includes as its goals the promotion of international relations, diplomacy and parliamentary procedure. The Category I group is being advised by Tracy Pascua, associate director of admissions at the School of Law.

“We were so excited to get Category 1 status,” said Secretary Harry Kang, a freshman. “Our group really gelled together throughout the formation of the club and we’re just happy to finally get recognized.”

Freshman Rashid Amini, the group’s treasurer, credits the passion of those involved with their success.

“There was such an emotion that we all had about [Model U.N.],” he said. “Student Union was so supportive of us.”

The club is planning their first Midwest Model U.N. conference at the Hyatt Hotel in Union Station in late February. Preparations have already started. Students are still needed for the Midwest Model U.N. Conference, and refresher courses are available in January to those who might be first-timers. The intensity of the simulations are intended to help students become better debaters and develop global insight on issues that they would not have previously been aware of.

“It’s not too late to join for students to get involved. If students are interested, they should be on the lookout for flyers on campus or posts on,” said Solowski.

Amini noted that about half of the group’s members have participated in Model U.N. at the high school level.

As for the future, Model U.N. plans to organize debates and conferences for high school students. As the first organization of its kind at the University, they want to take the initiative to bring it to local students as well.

“We wanted to organize debates on campus with local high school students so that they could not only get the Model U.N. experience, but also see the campus,” said Kang. “It’s a promotional activity for the school, as well.”

Others plans include participating in a University of Chicago conference, and getting political and international studies widespread on campus.

“Ideally, we would also like to see International Relations offered as a major, but none of us has talked to the administration about that yet,” said Solowski.

Campaign in Fallujah near completion

Friday, December 10th, 2004 | John Hewitt
Margaret Bauer

Last weekend a series of attacks by Iraqi insurgents resulted in the deaths of 80 Iraqis, including 17 contractors, 18 Kurdish militiamen and 12 Iraqi police officers. Since the invasion of the insurgent stronghold town of Fallujah last month, Iraq has been embroiled in a resurgent cacophony of violence unequaled since the turbulent month of April.

Washington University students following the current security situation in Iraq remain concerned about the recent action.

“If it’s a minority that’s resisting, it’s a very loud and deadly minority,” said freshman Elizabeth Ochoa.

On Nov. 8 the United States launched a major offensive on Fallujah-a predominately Sunni Muslim city 40 miles west of Baghdad-in order to take the city from insurgents that had been using it as a base of operations.

“What we’re trying to do is work our way into the major cities of the Sunni triangle [with] hopes that they will be pacified in time for the elections in January, which is of course the great aim of the Iraqi government and our forces,” said Victor LeVine, professor emeritus of political science at the University.

The offensive occurred with the approval of Iraq’s interim Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi. According to the Pentagon, between 10,000 and 15,000 American soldiers were involved in the offensive, along with the Iraqi National Guard. The battle of Fallujah was the largest military engagement of the war since spring 2003 when the invasion began.

Fallujah first gained notoriety as an anti-occupation bastion on March 31, 2004, when four Americans were killed in a grenade attack, their bodies burnt and hung on a suspension bridge over the Euphrates River. As pictures of these events circulated through the media, plans were drawn for the US Marines to assault the city in April. Leaflets were airdropped into Fallujah warning civilians to flee the city, and it has been estimated that approximately half of the city’s 300,000 inhabitants did flee.

U.S. Marines pushed in from the outskirts of Fallujah, but before reaching the city center received orders from on high to halt their attack. American officials negotiated with Sunni tribal leaders and contracted a Baathist general to lead patrols through the city. Neither of these initiatives proved to be effective, and Fallujah remained a safe haven for insurgents.

When the new offensive began in November, U.S. forces encircled the city to prevent insurgents from escaping and took possession of the hospital in the city’s center, which prevented journalists not embedded with American forces from publishing images of the battle’s carnage, and possibly intimidated wounded insurgents from seeking treatment.

“No one holds the American media accountable,” said freshman Ian Pearson. “If I followed the war, I’d go insane.”

Most of the city’s inhabitants had continued to flee, and many estimates put the portion of inhabitants that remained at well below 50 percent of its original population. Because most of the population of the city had fled, insurgents were able to use the many empty buildings to conceal sniper and mortar positions, which dogged the American advance; however, US forces were able to call on heavy artillery, heavy armor and air power to obliterate entrenched positions.

“I think our military is trying very hard to switch from the military mode to the reconstruction mode-trying to fit people back into houses,” LeVine said. “A good deal of the population that isn’t housed will probably be housed in tents or other temporary kinds of structures.”

Although there are no concrete body counts available, 51 American soldiers died during the offensive, and approximately 500 were wounded. Between 1,200 and 1,600 insurgents were killed, and about 1,000 prisoners were taken during the ordeal, according to US officials. In the aftermath of the battle, it became apparent that many of the insurgency’s leaders fled the city before the American offensive, including Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian al Qaeda operative who US officials believe to be coordinating many aspects of the insurgency.

In the days following the battle of Fallujah, the focus of the insurgency seems to have shifted even more toward terrorizing Iraqi civilians than cooperating with the interim government and the U.S. In the northern city of Mosul there were bombed police stations and dead members of the Iraqi National Guard; police lost control of the city.

Doubts were expressed by the Pentagon publicly as to whether or not the Iraqi National Guard and police force were reliable enough to secure Iraq for the elections scheduled for January. As it stands now, Fallujah is under American control, and soldiers are in the process of sweeping through every building in the city searching for insurgents and weapons caches.

“The campaign in Fallujah is by and large over, and the insurgency has shifted over to the other Sunni towns… but the big question has to do with whether the insurgency can force a delay in the election,” LeVine said. “The election seems to be the pivotal point for Iraqis themselves. If it is perceived to be legitimate, there may be some hope for retrieving Iraq itself. If not, we’re in for a long dark night there.”

For some students watching the situation closely, the plan to secure Iraq seems shaky at best.

“I think President Bush should publicly admit that he made a mistake, and to ask the international community to provide a large number of troops -about 100,000-to help provide security,” said senior David Rogier.

‘Around the WU’ brings sports banter to WUTV

Friday, December 10th, 2004 | David Tabor
David Brody

“Around the WU,” a live sports talk show modeled after ESPN’s “Around the Horn,” is giving Washington University students a chance to hear fellow students sound off on a variety of sports-related topics.

The show, which airs Mondays at 10:30 p.m., ran its third episode this week on Washington University Television (WUTV).

Like its national counterpart, “Around the WU” features a four-person panel that discusses recent sports events and issues. Panelists are scored based on the quality of their responses, and the panelist with the lowest total score is periodically cut until one emerges victorious.

As host Adrian Farhi, a sophomore, put it at the beginning of this Monday’s broadcast, “Around the WU” is a show of “competitive sports banter.”

Farhi and regular panelist Adam Schanfield, also a sophomore, developed the idea for a WUTV show early in November and by Thanksgiving had aired the pilot episode.

For Monday evening’s broadcast, Farhi and Schanfield were joined by sophomores Brian Wolfe and Nick Lizanich, and junior Andrew Evenson. Previous shows have also featured sophomore Josh Wojnilower as a panelist.

“We’re all friends so it’s a casual environment, and its fun to be here,” said Evenson, describing the rapport among those involved and the mood during broadcast.

Topics of discussion on Monday ranged from the flaws of the Bowl Championship Series in NCAA college football to recent revelations of steroid use among several prominent major league baseball players, including single-season home run record holder and seven-time MVP Barry Bonds.

Interviews and other feature segments provide a change of pace for the show’s episodes; this week’s show featured an interview with sophomore Benjamin Dao from the University’s Rugby team, who reflected on their season and helped to clarify some of the less well-understood elements of the sport. The show’s staff is planning an exclusive look at the Steamers, St. Louis’ major league soccer team, for an upcoming feature. The staff has been invited by the Steamers to a future game with special behind-the-scenes access.

Farhi explained that the staff meets on Saturday nights to plan feature ideas and outline discussion topics for that week’s show. While the process of researching the statistics and facts used during the show can take several hours, Farhi said that the group has been up to the task.

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s work that’s really enjoyable,” said Farhi, both of the research process and the show in general.

At the end of this week’s taping, Evenson, in his first time as a panelist, was declared the winner. He pulled a victory cigar from his jacket pocket as he accepted his accolades, earning another round of cheers from the audience.

“It’s just fun to be out here, and more importantly, we had a good time with the guys,” said Evenson.

WUTV’s filming studio is in the basement of Prince Hall. Broadcasts are open to the public and free to attend.

WU receives ration of flu vaccine

Friday, December 10th, 2004 | Liz Neukirch

Through a personal connection, Dr. Alan Glass has obtained a ration of injectable flu vaccine for Washington University students.

Glass, director of Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS), said the University tried to get a portion of the vaccine when it was originally distributed, but ran into bad luck-of the two suppliers who make the vaccine, the one the University had contacted was pulled from the market.

“We were able to obtain it finally because of a connection with folks at the Stanford University student health center,” said Glass, who knows the center’s director.

Because of the specific criteria students must meet in order to get the vaccination, Stanford had “a significant amount left” after offering the rations to interested students. They passed on 50 of the leftover doses to SHCS.

“They’d ordered all of their vaccine from the [supplier] that wasn’t pulled. We had bad luck, and they had good luck-and they were willing to share some of their good luck with us,” Glass said.

The University will follow the set of criteria established by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention when distributing the vaccine, Glass noted. In order to get the vaccine, students must qualify as “high-risk”-this including individuals with chronic medical conditions and healthcare workers involved in direct patient care.

Interested University students must meet one of the criteria before getting a shot. Flu clinics are being held daily Monday through Friday at the SHCS offices from 9 to 11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m. The cost of the vaccine is $20.

Pam Bookbinder elected Student Union VP

Friday, December 10th, 2004 | Sarah Kliff

After a meeting that lasted nearly five hours, Student Union senators and treasury representatives elected junior Pam Bookbinder as their new vice president Wednesday night. Bookbinder will replace Katie Leikhim, who resigned from the position last week.

“I’m excited to get to work. I feel really honored that I was elected,” said Bookbinder. “It should be a very exciting, busy few weeks [before break].”

Bookbinder, who recently finished a term as speaker of the Senate, has been involved in SU for the past two and a half years. Within the organization, she has also served as Food Committee Chair and Campus Services for two terms.

“I absolutely love being in Student Union and part of being in Student Union is stepping up to do things,” said Bookbinder, answering one senator’s question.

Following her appointment, she plans to hit the ground running. Bookbinder has already cleared room on her schedule to meet with the Social Programming Board and the committee on Outreach, Retention and Recruitment.

“I want to make sure that SU is planning large-scale events that a lot of undergrad students can come to,” she said. “I want to make it so a lot of people run and vote in elections.”

The Senate and Treasury convened a joint session beginning at 10 p.m. Wednesday and finishing with Bookbinder’s election at 2:37 a.m. Thursday.

“In my notes I had good evening, but I guess now it’s good morning,” said junior Erin Robinson, the first candidate to speak after midnight. Most senators and treasurers remained for the duration, which included the nomination of seven students, five of whom accepted their nominations.

Questions over Leikhim’s resignation still found their way into the meeting, largely fueled by Senator Tony Zand, a junior. Zand nominated Leikhim for the position and questioned the first nominee, senior Brian Nakash, about his thoughts on the controversy.

Speaker of the Treasury Ed Banti judged the question out of order, stating that such information had “nothing to do with responsibilities as vice president.”

SU representatives debated Banti’s ruling, then affirmed it and disallowed Zand’s question regarding Leikhim’s resignation.

Bookbinder had a meeting with Leikhim yesterday to discuss plans for next semester.

“I wanted to hear what her ideas were for the position,” said Bookbinder. “I still really want her to be involved because I think she’s a great person and would have been a great VP had the situation been different.”

Level of depression at WU surpasses national average

Friday, December 10th, 2004 | Roman Goldstein
KRT Campus

New data from Student Health and Counseling Services shows that 17.8 percent of female students and 8.9 percent of male students at Washington University are currently diagnosed with depression. Corresponding national figures from a similar study are 14 percent and 7 percent.

“I think that our sample was large enough that the difference even in the case of men is likely significant,” wrote Alan Glass, director of Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS), in an e-mail. He called depression one of the top three health problems facing colleges today, and a major problem at the University.

“The age group 18-25 has a really high incidence of depression,” he said in an interview.

The University data is from the National College Health Assessment, which SHCS administered to randomly selected students in October, while the national data was collected in a 2002 administration of the same study.

“We never before had data from our student body,” Glass said. “This is good data.”

Owing to the stigma attached to the disease, many college students remain unaware of the prevalence of depression in their peers.

“I don’t talk about it,” said sophomore Denise Umpierrez. “It’s a more of a personal thing. It’s a hard topic to talk about.”

Glass said that stigma is the biggest obstacle in helping students with depression get the treatment they need.

“We’re overcoming years worth of stigma around mental health issues,” he said.

The illness

Depression is a mental illness characterized by loss of energy, changes in appetite, irritability, sleep problems, feelings of worthlessness, difficulty concentrating, and suicidal or morbid thoughts according to the American Psychiatric Association.

“Hopelessness for me is what it was,” said Christine Win, class of 1998. “You feel so isolated, so cut off, that you can’t reach out to others.”

Ben Schartman, class of 2001, said that depression made his life burdensome.

“You don’t necessarily feel sad, just lifeless and ambitionless,” he said. “A little bit hopeless. I think I felt trapped, too, and out of my depth. Everything in my life became a burden.”

Though there is a genetic component to the illness, many of the risk factors are environmental. Stress is a trigger for depression and is common in college, explained Glass.

The stress factor is particularly important with exams coming up. EST Field Director Matthew Vogt said that EST sees an increase in mental health calls at the end of the semester, though these are not just depression-related calls.

Win said that exam time reveals students’ underlying depression, but does not necessarily cause it.

“Most likely the underlying problem is there through the semester,” she said. “During exam time, their coping mechanisms are severely deflated, so that’s why they see the symptoms.”

The stigma

According to Schartman, going through depression or seeing someone going through it destigmatizes the illness.

“The largest problem I had with depression was coming to accept it and admit to myself that I was depressed,” Schartman said.

He said he eventually tired of his happy facade and accepted the illness.

“I got sick of lying to myself and to other people,” said Schartman. “I got so damn tired of answering the universal question, ‘How are you doing?’ with, ‘Fine.’ It just felt so liberating to tell people the truth, that I wasn’t fine at all.”

Win was hospitalized for depression while in college, and afterwards worked to demystify the illness for others.

“I made it a priority to talk to students about depression,” she said. “I had a lot of success doing that. I was asked to come to sororities and to student groups.”

Now, as coordinator for peer health education in the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness (OHPW), Win works information about depression into many of the presentations she gives.

“If I’m doing a program about stress, I work in some sort of reminder that mental health can certainly be impacted by our nutrition, exercise and our stress level,” she said.

Francis Flanegan, a sophomore who has a family history of depression, said being close to depression made it easier for him to accept its frequency.

“I’m always on the lookout for symptoms,” he said, adding that he knows “at least half a dozen” depressed students.

The treatment

The American Psychiatric Association says that 80 to 90 percent of depressed people significantly benefit from treatment, and nearly everyone improves with medical care.

“Students don’t know how common it is, how treatable it is,” said Melissa Ruwitch, coordinator of OHPW.

Common treatments include psychotherapy and medication. Studies show that combining the two offers the best chance to successfully treat depression and prevent a relapse.

However, among students diagnosed with depression nationwide, only 35 percent are on anti-depressants and 24 percent are in therapy, according to the 2002 National College Health Assessment.

Psychotherapy is commonly called “talk” therapy, because a patient sits down with a therapist to talk about his or her problems. Aside from being a confidant, the therapist may give the patient advice on how to deal with depression day to day and help the patient through the illness.

“I did see a counselor here at SHCS,” recounted Schartman. “It was a good experience.”

Schartman said the counseling helped him to pull away from the high-stress academic environment, a key step in controlling his depression.

“I made my life and my expectations for myself a lot simpler, a lot humbler,” he said.

Anti-depressants-prescribed by psychiatrists, not psychologists-come in various forms, thanks to the pharmaceutical boom. All of them work by correcting the brain’s biochemistry, but different drugs act on different neurotransmitters. On a given person, certain drugs may work while others may not; and even with drugs that act on the same thing, results may vary.

A psychiatrist originally prescribed Schartman Prozac, which acts on the neurotransmitter serotonin. Schartman said the drug did not treat his depression.

“I didn’t feel like it had any effect,” he said. “It made me slightly less sexually active.”

However, he said that Lexapro, another drug that acts on serotonin, did help.

Serotonin-affecting drugs are under new scrutiny because they may increase the risk of suicide in users. Also, sexual side effects are common in these drugs. Other anti-depressants that act on different neurotransmitters have different side effects, often mild.

The consequences

Left untreated, depression can be harmful or even fatal.

“I’ve been depressed,” said one junior who requested his name not be used. “I dealt with it by abusing alcohol.”

Studies from the National Institutes of Health show that half of substance abusers also suffer from mental disorders like depression. A 1990 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that about 18 percent of depressed patients had a substance abuse disorder.

For most depressed students, the illness often translates into a poor GPA or difficulty with friends.

“As far as academic performance, when students are depressed, it’s really hard to function,” Glass said.

According to the National College Health Assessment, 39.4 percent of Washington University students felt so depressed at least once in the last year that they could not function.

But the biggest specter hanging over depressed students is the risk of suicide.

“It’s certainly possible to have suicide without depression, but depression is a major risk factor for suicide,” said Glass, later stressing, “Most people who are depressed do not become suicidal.”

The Jed Foundation, a college mental health group, reports that suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students. One in 12 college students make a suicide plan, and 7.5 out of 100,000 actually commit suicide.

“When I was a student here there was a successful suicide,” said Win. “I believe in this case it was an RA who was depressed.”

The solution

University health officials said that depression is a high priority, and they are taking active steps to address the problem.

“We’ve increased the number of counselors and psychiatrists,” Glass said. “Counselors from SHCS are actually assigned to residence halls so they develop a good working relationship with staff and students.”

Glass said the National College Health Assessment would also help the University combat depression.

“Collecting data, and careful analysis of that data, will help us allocate resources,” he said.

Ruwitch said that addressing depression ultimately requires “getting more of our clinicians in front of students.” However, she noted it is difficult to raise awareness throughout the University community.

“The challenge is getting people to come to something that’s about a depressing subject,” she said.

The last major depression awareness event took place in November 2002, when “Real World” star and University alumna Cara Kahn spoke in Graham Chapel about her experiences with depression. Additionally, two University health officials spoke.

Ruwitch said that large-scale efforts like Kahn’s lecture are difficult to organize. That event was a lucky break for the University, since it basically came pre-organized by sponsor Wyeth Pharmaceuticals.

Asked why there have not been more large scale events raising awareness about depression, Ruwitch responded that as prevalent as depression is, there are so many health problems in college that the University cannot just focus on one.

“There are a lot of important topics,” she said. “Depression is one of them,” adding that depression, for her, is one of the ten most important health problems.

Glass cited awareness as a key to removing the stigma from depression.

“My goal is to make it so that it’s no bigger deal to come to SHCS for anxiety and depression than a sore throat,” he said.

Sigma Chi seeks advice from alumni

Friday, December 10th, 2004 | Erin Harkless
Margaret Bauer

After losing their house and receiving harsh sanctions from University administrators in response to several incidents last semester, Sigma Chi members are looking to turn things around with the help of a new alumni advisory board.

“There was not a lot of alumni involvement in the past and I think that’s possibly where some of our problems lay,” Sigma Chi President Justin Thompson said. “When you have strong alumni involvement to give a voice of reason, a lot of bad decisions can be avoided.”

While the fraternity had a chapter advisor working with them in the past, the alumni advisory board did not exist in its current form until this year, Thompson explained.

The board is comprised of five alumni, ranging from recent graduates to men who graduated from the University in the 1960s. Most of the members live in the St. Louis area and have made themselves available to current members when needed. The board meets monthly to help the chapter focus on its ideals, approve chapter events, and offer advice and support to the current members.

It has offered several new ideas to the officers and brothers this semester, including a mentoring program that connects officers with an alumnus on the board. Each current officer also has his own set of mentees so that younger members can learn the roles of that office and better understand what that specific position entails.

Most Sigma Chi members have reacted positively to the board and have enjoyed the opportunity to interact and gain advice from alumni.

“It’s great to have alums involved with the chapter and have their advice on how things should be done,” said senior Sean Moore.

Rob Salyer, a 1995 alumnus of the University and current Sigma Chi chapter advisor and alumni board member, said that he was discouraged by the events of last spring, but the support of other alumni encouraged him to stay involved.

“We added more structure this year and are there to give more guidance, but the guys really took the ball and ran with things,” Salyer said.

All Sigma Chi members went through a membership review process at the beginning of the year. According to Salyer, some were not invited back and others decided not to stay active this semester. Salyer said that those who decided to stay involved were the ones who are most dedicated to the fraternity.

“Everyone has gone through a reeducation and review of sorts, focusing on Sigma Chi and what it stands for,” Salyer said.

Upcoming plans for next semester include a brotherhood retreat in January, in addition to preparations for the spring fraternity rush period. Officers have also been working with the alumni board to ensure that pledge events for next semester do not encourage the type of degrading behavior that led to last semester’s troubles.

Thompson admits that this semester has been tough for the fraternity as they look to regain their standing on campus.

“One of the biggest challenges for us has been a reputation factor. We embarrassed ourselves, the campus community, and the national organization,” Thompson said. “Getting back our reputation has been a challenge but we are starting to succeed in that area and allowing people to see that we’re more than the stereotypical fraternity.”

Both Thompson and Salyer noted that administrators and Greek Life officials have reacted positively to the board and have received constructive feedback from them.

Karin Johnes, director of Greek Life, noted that her office is “fully supportive” of the advisory board and believes it serves a beneficial role.

“As a Greek advisor we know there are several things that can make a chapter successful. A strong alumni board is one way,” Johnes said.

Johnes is also looking ahead to spring fraternity recruitment and believes that Sigma Chi is committed to regaining its standing. Last spring, incidents of inappropriate alcohol consumption and graphic pledging events were reported. The fraternity was initially barred from pledging and initiating members, although it has regained the right to resume those activities. Eventually the University levied other sanctions, leading Sigma Chi to lose its house for at least a two-year period.

“All the sanctions developed were very strategic,” Johnes said. “If they’re fulfilling them, it will benefit the chapter and we will see this in recruitment in the spring.”

SU VP elected behind closed doors

Friday, December 10th, 2004 | Rachel Streitfeld and Sarah Kliff

Four hours into Wednesday’s meeting to elect a new class vice president, Student Union members moved to seal their discussion from the public.

An argument erupted around 1 a.m. when Treasury representative Judson Clark suggested expelling media from the meeting. Legislators discussed a variety of options before deciding to convene an executive session, effectively closing the meeting to the student body. The heated back-and-forth centered around whether reporters from Student Life should be allowed to take notes on the proceedings.

Clark said “nothing good can come” of the reporters’ presence. He expressed concern that “anything we say will be taken out of context.”

“Discussion should not be on any record of any kind. It is the reason we have the nominees step out,” said Clark. “We provide one unified voice so that all anyone knows what we personally think about them is never in the minutes.”

The candidates themselves were only allowed in the chamber to present their speeches and answer the joint committee’s questions. The candidates were not privy to speeches from their competitors.

After an hour of debate, Senate and Treasury members decided the reporters could stay only if they turned off their tape recorder, shut off their laptops and laid down their pens-thereby agreeing not to report on the discussion. One stipulation of an executive session is that no one present can repeat what was discussed behind closed doors.

The executive session excluded the five candidates, who waited in the hallway until the legislators announced the election of junior Pam Bookbinder, former speaker of the Senate.

The closed-door decision did not sit well with some members.

“I was very upset when we moved into executive session,” said Senator Tony Zand, a junior. “I feel that the discussion of students should be open. If the Senate and Treasury are going to pick a candidate they should be able to discuss that with the student body.”

Others pointed out that students had been invited to the meeting, and the two reporters should not be forced to leave for exercising their rights as students to attend.

“I just want to reiterate how ridiculous it is that we are targeting two individuals by telling them to leave,” said Senator Aaron Keyak.

SU President David Ader advised members to consider allowing the reporters to stay.

“I do recognize the need for outside people being here, and even if [the reporters] want to consider themselves Wash U students for the night instead of Stud Life reporters and shut off their laptops, maybe they could get the tone of the meeting and some things that went into it without direct quotes,” said Ader, a junior.

Some senators disagreed, contending that no one could speak freely about the candidates for fear that the information would be published.

“It’s a tough decision, but I think the feeling of the people in the room was they wanted to make a good decision, and if they were worried about their comments being misconstrued or getting out…we wanted to be as open as possible,” said Speaker of the Senate Marc Bridge, a junior. “I’m just not sure that people’s individual feelings are fair game for being reported publicly.”

Treasury representative Harsh Agarwal argued that discussion of the candidates should remain confidential “for the same reason that we don’t include discussion in the [meeting] minutes.”

“It should not be on any record of any kind,” said Agarwal. “All anyone knows about what we personally think about them are never in the minutes. That’s not nice.”

As a member of the SU Executive Committee, Ader could not vote for the new VP. However, he acknowledged that some of the discussion could cover sensitive issues.

“I’m not going to go one way or another on this, but I think that in discussion, sometimes some of the people here might have privileged information of which to discuss the candidates,” said Ader.

But other members argued that candidates should be able to separate personal problems from professional concerns.

“I highly disagree with the idea of a legislator saying something and not standing behind it,” said Keyak. “Whatever we do, I think someone makes a statement, if it’s on the record, they should be able to stand behind it.”

Yesterday, students said they were perturbed that the meeting had been sealed off.

“The student body should be able to have access to whatever went on,” said freshman Marissa Montgomery. “Their decision to elect that person has a big effect on all of us, and everyone should be able to know what went on exactly. The whole situation makes me suspicious.”

Senior Andrew Seidman said he was “disappointed” to learn of the joint committee’s decision.

“It sounds blatantly undemocratic on a variety of levels,” said Seidman. “I suppose the greatest outrage is that Student Life reporters weren’t allowed to record events.”

Dan Livengood, the president of EnCouncil, had encouraged his fellow engineers to attend the meeting.

“We wanted to be there to speak our voice,” said Livengood, a senior. “It was sort of our opinion that anybody and everybody as a student should be able to come and voice their opinions about who should represent the student body.”

Ugliness not the problem

Friday, December 10th, 2004 | Jeremy Weissman

This article is a response to David Brody’s article “The Ugly Truth: Why We Drink”. David claimed that the reason we drink at Washington University is that the students here are particularly ugly. I’ve heard this complaint many times since I arrived four years ago. Hearing this has always infuriated me, because as I walk around campus every day I notice dozens of women that I wish I were hooking up with (but am not hooking up with).

The ugliness complaint is typically expressed by male students who are not quite happy with their sex lives. Instead of blaming themselves for their sexual frustration, they blame the student body for being below their standards. Usually, they are referring to the females.

My hunch is that the majority of our students are overworked and undersexed. Can one blame them for a lack of sex? Not really, but I’ll try anyway. Washington University is not a sexually liberated environment. Because we are overworked, we don’t tend to socialize with new people very often. Socializing leads to sexual encounters that are maybe even alcohol free. Instead of sexuality always permeating the air (as it would if we let it), you rely on the weekends for possible sexual activity. You go in search of the random, drunken hookups (the form of romantic engagement most frequented by Wash U students). You get dressed up “nice”, then get into a room with other similarly minded (drunk) people and hope things happen.

A fraternity party seems like a good bet for those in search of a hook-up. People are drunk (or at least used to be), people are dancing to sex-oriented music (the same tracks every weekend for the whole year or maybe even longer), bodies are touching, things may happen. But even though fraternities seem like a place where people are meeting new people and mingling, it is simply an illusion. Most people at fraternity parties tend to stick to their isolated circle of friends, making that packed party, in reality, just a bunch of friends in the same room. These are not ideal conditions to meet someone that you hit it off with.

The next option in search of a drunken hook-up would be a non-frat party. Unfortunately, people don’t dance at most of these parties, partly due to noise restrictions on and off campus. It is rare that a conversation with a stranger at a party leads to sex (though it does happen). It is just as rare that you’ll have a conversation with a stranger.

The final option for booty is dating. The University, however, is not a very date friendly environment. Dating is not a typical activity. It is not a normal thing to ask someone out for the weekend. (In other eras, dating would be highly sought after.) Since dating is not typical here, not a lot of students try to do it.

Sexual frustration at Washington University is not to be blamed on a lack of sexual candidates. If there is anything we can blame the University for, it is that the professors give so much work that socializing, which leads to sex, becomes difficult. The student body’s close-mindedness toward sex and dating is also a problem. We’re a school where if you make out with someone of the same sex at a party, everyone stops and stares. Other schools have naked parties. Try getting students here to do that. We’re like high school kids, but less fun.